The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership - European Union Committee Contents


The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the most ambitious trade and investment pact ever attempted, due both to its scale—the European Union and the United States together account for nearly half of world GDP—and because in tackling non-tariff barriers to trade, a deal could set the template for a new generation of 21st century trade and investment agreements.

In this report, we examine the prospects of the EU and US being able to conclude an agreement that fulfils that potential, and examine the UK Government's approach to the negotiations. We assess the prospects of making progress on flagship issues and in areas the Government have identified as UK priorities, and explore concerns about the possible adverse effects of an agreement.

We conclude that, by analogy with the Single Market programme to which the initiative has been likened, the net and long-term effect of an agreement should be to boost employment and prosperity among EU member states and in the US. The initiative also has a strategic dimension, presenting an opportunity to set a high-standard precedent for future trade and investment agreements. It could also serve to revitalise the transatlantic relationship, not least by establishing a permanent, structured dialogue on regulatory matters through provisions for a living agreement.

Our analysis suggests that it should be possible to make progress on UK objectives in relation to the motor industry and geographical indications. Access to US public procurement contracts will be more difficult to obtain, particularly at the sub-federal level, but is worth attempting, as the CETA agreement with Canada shows. We conclude that the inclusion of financial services regulatory matters in TTIP will be the hardest fought of the UK's objectives, due to vehement opposition from the US.

We observe that, insofar as a public debate on TTIP exists, EU member states are losing it. Proponents have yet to articulate the purpose or possible gains from TTIP in a compelling way, or to offer convincing responses to legitimate concerns. This task cannot be left to the European Commission alone: we judge that EU member states, including the UK Government, are not bearing their fair share of responsibility for transparency and communication around the initiative. Nor should it fall to trade ministers alone: we recommend that the UK Government should develop a communications strategy involving ministers with sectoral responsibilities.

We anticipate that the political backdrop of mid-term elections in the US, European Parliament elections and the appointment of a new European Commission will limit progress on politically contentious issues in the negotiations until late 2014. There will then be a relatively narrow window of opportunity to make progress on the issues that require political capital to be spent in the first half of 2015, before the US presidential election cycle takes over. With the US Administration yet to secure Trade Promotion Authority, it is by no means clear that negotiators will be in a position to seize that opportunity.

The UK Government have a pivotal role to play in spurring on other leaders and decision-makers in order to sustain momentum behind the initiative. We judge that they are according priority to this in their work in the United States, but that there is scope to do more in Brussels and other European capitals if the Government and their allies are to take charge of the public debate in the EU and help ensure that a new Commission is in a position to seize the narrow window of opportunity that may present itself next year.

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